CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers and Anderson Varejao— the energetic big man with long, curly hair known to the team's fans as "Wild Thing" — have agreed on a multiyear contract.
Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry announced the signing Thursday afternoon, though terms were not disclosed. The 6-11 center/forward from Brazil has played five years in the NBA, all with the Cavaliers.
The deal was first reported by The Plain Dealer of Cleveland late Wednesday. Agent Dan Fegan told the newspaper that the club and Varejao agreed on a six-year contract worth up to $50 million. Fegan did not return messages Thursday from the Associated Press.
Ferry said that after Varejao did not exercise his option on a $6.2 million contract for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent, both sides wanted to reach a new deal to keep him with the Cavaliers.
"From the start of free agency, Anderson made it clear he wanted to be a part of our future and that he loved being in Cleveland," Ferry said. "He brings many valued contributions to our team on and off the court and plays with relentless passion and energy every play. He is an elite defender and we want to continue building our strong defensive identity."
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Known for his hustle, Varejao posted career-highs with 42 starts, 8.6 points per game and a field-goal percentage of .536 last season, when the Cavs won a league-high 66 regular-season games but were eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals by Orlando.
The signing is the second major offseason move by the Cavaliers, who completed a blockbuster trade June 25 to acquire center Shaquille O'Neal from the Phoenix Suns.
"Andy wanted to stay in Cleveland," Fegan told The Plain Dealer. "He feels there is unfinished business — to win an NBA championship."
Varejao had interest from several teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder, and other potential sign-and-trade offers from other teams without salary-cap space. Fegan said several teams were willing to offer Varejao contracts that averaged $10 million per season.
A new Varejao deal is a sign any previous animosity between the player and Cavaliers management is no long an issue. The two sides bickered over a contract in 2007, and Varejao missing the first part of that season in a holdout.
The deal reportedly will keep Varejao's salary cap number to a little more than $7 million for the 2010-11 season, which could help Cleveland's position next summer, when Cavaliers superstar LeBron James potentially could be a free agent.